The energy transition at the heart of IFP School's training programs and research

In a time of energy transition, IFP School is constantly adapting its programs to take into account current environmental, societal and economic concerns. Hence, the School's strategy focuses on three main areas: training, research and actions to promote a more eco-responsible campus.

In this article, we will examine the latest developments in these areas at IFP School.

Adapting our programs

In 2019, the percentage of courses dedicated to energy transition issues represented only 12.8% of all courses taught at IFP School. Today, the share dedicated to this topic has doubled and is now over 25%.

"The energy transition is unquestionably at the heart of our training programs. As things are accelerating, so are the changes to engineering jobs. Our mission is to provide our students with the key skills they will need to responsibly build a future zero-carbon world," explains Christine Travers, Dean of IFP School.

"This focus on the energy transition is essential for their future careers. Four years ago, only 8% of all our graduates found their first job in renewable energies. Today, 38% of them are working in this sector!" she continues.

Energy transition illustration

As per usual for each new academic year, the syllabus of each program was reviewed to integrate current and future challenges brought on by the energy transition.

Thus, following the shift towards electrification and hybridization in the field of powertrains, the development of geological CO2 storage and management, and the digitalization of the Electricity industry and its effects on the economy, lFP School has enhanced all its programs with new topics.

With regard to processes, for example, students in the Energy and Processes (ENEP) and Processes and Polymers (POLY) programs can now customize their course to include one of these new options:

  • Gas, Hydrogen and Electricity (ENEP);
  • Responsible Refining (ENEP);
  • Development of the plastics industry (POLY);
  • Innovative and sustainable chemistry (POLY).

Hydrogen is seen as one of the most promising solutions to the energy transition conundrum and is the latest topic to be introduced in the School’s programs. 353 hours of courses are currently dedicated to hydrogen throughout IFP School's ten engineering programs!

In the Georesources and Energy Center, for example, the course on geological gas storage now includes hydrogen. In Processes, the School offers courses on the different methods used (gray, blue, green) to produce hydrogen, as well as on how to store and transport it.

In Powertrain Engineering, students study fuel cells and hydrogen; the contents of the MOOC "Hydrogen for mobility" devoted to the use of hydrogen in heavy-duty mobility have been integrated into the Powertrain Engineering program.

"The importance given to hydrogen in our courses reflects the industry’s growing needs," notes Laetitia Salessy, Hydrogen Coordinator and Director of the Processes for Energy and Chemicals Center at IFP School. "But it is also in response to students' expectations regarding technological innovations and environmental issues," she adds.

In addition to the program-based courses, IFP School students can further focus on the energy transition by choosing cross-disciplinary modules such as the Professional Skills Module (PSM).

During the first three weeks of December, 89 IFP School students from 8 different programs worked in teams and in project mode on three issues: adapting to climate change, limiting climate change and the climate strategy of private companies.

New low-carbon training courses

While many of the skills developed in the Oil and Gas sector are transferable, the transition to other sources of energy requires developing new technical and scientific know-how. To facilitate this transition, IFP School intends to anticipate the skills that will be needed and has created new training programs.

In the field of Georesources, IFP School and the University of Strasbourg have signed a partnership for a new Master's degree, "Geosciences for the Energy System Transition", which will begin in September 2023. This will be in addition to the three research-oriented Master's programs for which the School is co-accredited.

At the start of the 2025 academic year, the Reservoir Geoscience and Engineering and Petroleum Geosciences programs will be replaced by a new program devoted to the application of subsurface techniques for the energy transition. Future graduates of this program will have the skills to work in hydrocarbon exploration and production as well as in energy storage (CO2 or hydrogen) or geothermal energy.

The School is also working on other projects on the following topics: electricity, hydrogen and offshore wind energy...

These new programs will be subject to approval and/or accreditation by the competent authorities.

Research dedicated to the energy transition

IFP School has four research and teaching chairs.

The first three were launched in 2019 and address issues related to the energy transition, namely:

Launched a year ago, the EleTher Chair is the most recent chair at IFP School. It focuses on the application of thermodynamic tools to improve the efficiency of recycling processes.

These chairs are an integral part of the engineering educational approach: they foster the development of innovative research themes that are then fed into the courses as content. Students thus benefit from the chairs’ activities in the form of case studies, projects, workshops and round tables.

For example, the work of the ETD Chair provided the content for a new teaching unit called "Digitalization in the Electricity Sector" for the Energy and Markets (ENM) and Energy Technology Economics and Management (ETEM) programs.

The energy transition is also happening on campus

While the School assigns particular importance to keeping its course content up-to-date and in line each year with the energy transition, it equally pays attention to ensuring concrete actions are implemented on campus in favor of sustainable development. To do this, it relies on the initiatives led by IFP School’s staff and students – this is the purpose of the Sustainable Campus Initiative group created in 2018, to which the members of the Student Office of the Classes of 2022 and 2023 have committed themselves. Amongst the various actions taken, here a but a few examples: the eco-actions campaign, reducing the use of plastic, reducing our digital carbon footprint, reducing our carbon footprint when traveling: the transport of guest speakers, student trips, etc.

Article written by Meyling Siu